How and Why I Got Into Juggling

This is by far the most common question posed to me.  The second most common is, “Have you ever juggled a chainsaw?” (if you’re wondering, here’s your answer).

Most kids these days discover their life calling/passion around ages 11-12 (as I did).  So go encourage a preteen today in whatever their interests might be.

I will answer in the form of a timeline of sorts…..


I’m born into a non-juggling, non-circus family (well, my Dad did stick bananas in his ears, so that might count).


My 3rd grade gym teacher instructs my class on how to juggle scarves.  I forget how I fared.


I make friends with classmate named Tim Dooner, who has the interesting ability to juggle 3 beanbags.  One day while playing at his house, I have him show me how to juggle 3 balls.  For two weeks I worked at it every night and learned the skill.


I go to the public library and get and devour every book I can on juggling, because I think this is soooo cool.  I spend hours each evening after school practicing my juggling, using only books and innovation to learn what I can.  The most helpful book at the beginning was Kit Summers’ “Juggling with Finesse”.


My family moves and I have a new school with new friends.  I hear about some guys at another school who juggle for fun.  I meet them and we start hanging out, juggling together and attending (a first for me) juggling conventions.  Since this was before YouTube, we would gather in one of the guys’ basements and watch fuzzy VHS’s of famous jugglers (from Bobby May to Anthony Gatto) doing their spectacular routines.  I’m hooked and I want to perform as a juggler.


 I’m invited to perform at my high school variety show, which turns out to be my “big break”.  The audience loves the clubs, rings, machetes, and ladder balancing.  I determine this is something I want to pursue in life (not full-time, but always on the side).


In college, I meet a guy named David Cain, who performs juggling shows with a Christian message.  As a young person with a call into ministry, I think this is great, so I learn under his mentoring and develop my own show and subsequently go on the road.

Nearly a thousand shows later, the rest is history…..

So go encourage a preteen.


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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.